One fine spring day, my husband and I drove by the old farmhouse his family once owned. We were so amazed by what we saw that he stopped the car. The two “small” weeping willows he planted decades ago at the front of the property were now sprawling giants.
At the top of the driveway, to the left, towered a beautiful light blue pine, almost as tall as the house. It glistened in the sunshine, its colour even more breathtaking now than when we first planted it.
Subsequent owners had preserved these trees, but removed many others that we’d planted.
It made me think of legacy. What we leave behind. What others deem worthy, and what they don’t.
There are the usual possessions, of course. The dwelling, the furniture, the coin collection, the lovely dishes.
Things we acquire. And even the trees we plant.
But the older one gets, the more we realize that it’s often the intangibles that are our true legacy. The love, understanding and support we gave to others. The doors we unlocked so others could walk through, the actions we took to comfort or strengthen others during rough times.
And even how we say goodbye.
Jeni Rankin lived in Scotland. I met her through her blog (The Hopeful Herbalist). We shared a love for family and nature. Her prose, poetry and photos radiated beauty, tranquility and a caring spirit. We became blogger friends and penpals.
It was when my husband got critically ill a few years ago — and Jeni kept in touch with us through her letters and prayers — that I realized where some of that tranquility and caring came from. Jeni’s faith was strong.
Last year came her cancer diagnosis. It must have knocked her sideways, but she continued to inspire those around her. Husband Ian, their children, relatives and friends — and even far-away penpals like me.
She wrote a final letter last year. There is such grace, faith and love in it, and every time I read it, I thank Jeni for these words she left behind for us. With her family’s approval I share it here, hoping her words will uplift and inspire others too:
Dearest family and friends, I just wanted to say ‘Thank you’ each and every one of you for the small acts of gladness you have showered on me and the family. Each one a token of love and prayers poured out for us.
*** Warning – this might make you sad ***
Many of us never get a chance to say ‘Goodbye’ so I just want to take a little time right now and say Goodbye and thank you for the memories, your friendship and fellowship. Shared meals, parties, weddings, births and inevitably funerals. Live everyday well, with gladness in your hearts. Seize the Day!
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the Ancient paths
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest to your souls.”
Death is a mystery, and we know it comes to each of us but our faith has carried us to this juncture with your wonderful support and love.
“Death is not the end; it is only a new beginning.
Death is not the master of the house;
he is only the porter in the King’s lodge,
appointed to open the gate and let
the King’s guest into the realms of eternal day.'”
John Henry Jowett (1864 -1925)
We live in a random world filled with random acts. A few random acts with my DNA and a few, miscreant cancer cells have always been one step ahead of treatment. It’s cancer hidden in plain sight, right there in the mouth, so please keep an eye on your mouth and take regular dental checks.
Meanwhile I try to live each day as I can with a smile, with grace and joy in my heart. My hope for you is that you too will live every day ‘until breath becomes air…’
AND I get to choose my music for the funeral. (NO, not “Ding, dong the witch is dead!) I want one of those great hymns that speak volumes in a few words. If any of you musicians want to bring your instrument; feel free!😅 .. We have just spent some time with Pastor Nick discussing the arrangements. There will be a committal at Monkton Natural Cemetery before a service in church followed by a tea to which you are all warmly invited. We intend to sing Abide with me at the committal, please bring your instruments. My family confess that music is not their best strength!
“Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”
Thank you for all the lovely flowers too but if you wish to make a donation on behalf of http://www.letstalkaboutmouthcancer.co.uk/ to allow them to continue their work promoting self examination and information about oral cancer please do…
But now I need to rest, just want to leave a lovely song for you too…
Now may the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace, as you trust in Him,
with much love,